Friday 12 July 2019

Hopping Around the Spiral With CTR: Nitro-Fueled

As I said in the last post, my family had a PS1 [or more accurately the PSone] and one of the games we had for it was Crash Team Racing. We hadn’t ever got any of the other Crash games before it, so this was my first taste of the Crash Bandicoot series. The Gamecube hadn’t released at this point, so CTR is the first kart racer – and very possibly the first racing game ever – I had played.

Despite never mastering it, I enjoyed playing it up until the point the PSone and everything with it was sold on, which I think was only a few years after it was first bought to swap to the PS2 Slim. I still remembered my time with it, and even though I played many a Mario Kart and other racing games, I still wanted another chance to play it. That would come with the PSP, and the backward compatibility it introduced for select PS1 games. CTR would be among them, and I was playing it once again. I was still terrible at mastering it, though. But I enjoyed zipping through the tracks even if I wasn’t making any progress in Adventure.

CTR followed me to the PSV, where it would be forgotten to start with, but then in 2016 started to see more play time. I even took another run through Adventure – even if I still didn’t get very far. The game had followed me from young times to present day, and then came the Crash Bandicoot trilogy remake, followed by the Spyro trilogy remake, and there was talk of Crash Team Racing getting one too. I’d love for it to happen, I kept thinking, but I doubt it will.

Oh, how I am happy to be proven wrong. Nitro-Fueled is a love letter to the series, and is a solid remake. There’s plenty to be getting stuck into, as not only are all the original tracks and characters here, but even those from the second racer – Nitro Kart. The adventure mode is still the same as ever, though, as it doesn’t include all that extra stuff. Not even a second adventure mode to make use of it. But… this is a remake and not a new game, so it is to be expected.

At first, I just jumped into some singular races to get back into the feel for the controls, then onto the adventure where I took up my old faithful racer – N.Gin. I’ve no idea why he was the one I stuck with most, but the weird scientist just stuck out as a favourite. Of course, that’ll be changing with the Grand Prix content, since there’s one character in particular that I’ve got a lock on wanting to get. It’ll be weird to see Spyro driving a kart, but well worth it.

But the Grand Prix itself offers the usual fare of completing challenges with varying difficulty levels to earn points to go up in tiers, and I’m fond of that system. The grind for points to unlock things rather than the challenges being the unlock keys is something I’m not a fan of. I don’t mind grinding for things, but I’d much rather do it in my own time rather than feel forced into it. Some of the challenges have proven to be fun to aim for, and they do at least get you to venture to parts of the game you might not have tried. The in-game store it also a grind – and a very hefty one – if you aren’t one for playing online. As such, I’m just not interested in looking beyond a quick browse, since the store also rotates new things in every day, so there’s no point trying to aim for something unless you’re near to it anyway.

The game itself is great fun, though, with my favourite thing at the minute being 1v1 capture the flag. It’s a mode where you need to be aware of what the opposing driver is doing, since if they have your flag, you need to stop them before they get to deliver it to their base. But there’s also an extra reason, since if your flag has been taken from its base, you can’t deliver the opposing flag to it until your own has returned. Everything else is just as fun, if a little too chaotic at times during races where a single item can put you back within the pack and into a world of trouble. But if you can pull back a win from that storm, it really is a satisfying experience.

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